The company, which was founded by applied physicists at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has been granted by Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) an exclusive, worldwide license to a portfolio of innovations in flat optics developed in the Harvard lab of Federico Capasso. With this technology, says the company, it intends to transform consumer electronics by introducing a powerful technology for imaging and illumination that could replace conventional lenses with an ultrathin, flat optical microchip.

The funding and semiconductor manufacturing expertise will enable the further engineering of metalenses toward large-scale fabrication for consumer, healthcare, and automotive applications, using the established technology of semiconductor chip manufacturing.

“It has been rewarding to see Metalenz successfully emerge as a startup following a decade of research in my group that has ranged from generalizing the centuries-old Snell’s law of refractive optics to the realization of flat lenses that outperform conventional ones,” says Capasso, who is the Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Harvard SEAS. Capasso is a co-founder of Metalenz and a board member of the company.

Metalens technology exploits the interactions of light and matter at the nanometer scale to achieve unprecedented control of the behavior of light. Conventional optics refract, reflect, and polarize light as it passes through the bulk of a material, while the Capasso Lab’s innovations use minuscule patterns and structures at the surface to redirect light at will.

The resulting technology, says the company, is a wafer-thin chip not only capable of disrupting the field of digital imaging, but also poised to enable new types of ultracompact devices for 3D sensing, augmented reality, virtual reality, and more.

“The metalens platform has the potential to drive a revolution in imaging and sensing, from the ubiquitous cameras in cell phones, cars, and self-driving vehicles to AR/VR, and in the future to widespread use in drones and CubeSats,” says Capasso. “I am grateful to Harvard OTD for encouraging and supporting, all along, the creation of Metalenz.”

Alan Gordon, director of business development in OTD adds, “The Capasso Lab has created a robust and exciting technology platform that really challenges the status quo in optical physics. These researchers have had the vision and conviction to direct their ingenuity toward overcoming a major challenge that impacts numerous industries. The Metalenz team carries forward that technical expertise and entrepreneurial instinct.”


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